Democratic Congressman Rep. John Lewis of Georgia’s Fifth District has a record in American history that spans decades and ranges from mug shots to a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He went on the record last week to say that he felt the Trump presidency was not legitimate, and that he had no intentions of attending Inauguration Day this year, for the first time in 30 years. This ultimately led to the now famous Trump Twitter attack against John Lewis, an attack, that as it turns out, was not factually accurate.
What Congressman Lewis actually said was the following.
“I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president. I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who has marched for civil rights with Congressman Lewis, went on the record this Sunday to say he found the Congressman’s comments “deeply disappointing,” reports CBS News. He also said that Donald Trump has every right to defend himself. Mike Pence made those comments on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, saying the following.
“Donald Trump won this election fair and square, 30 out of 50 states, including Georgia. To hear John Lewis — a man that I served with, that I respect – to question the legitimacy of the election and to say that Donald Trump will not be a legitimate president was deeply disappointing to me. To hear that he was not going to attend the Inauguration this Friday – I hope he reconsiders both statements.”
TheDaily Mail reports that Mike Pence continued by saying, Trump’s statements were about “literally generations of failed policies coming out of Washington D.C. and not Lewis specifically.”
This is not correct. A look at the statements made by Trump that led to the now famous Trump Twitter attack against John Lewis shows that John Lewis was in fact specifically named, multiple times, in Trump’s tweets on the matter.
Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2017
Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2017
Not only was Mike Pence inaccurate in his assessment of Trump’s statements, but Trump’s statements on the state of Georgia’s Fifth District in general, and on its crime rates, were inaccurate.
The Daily Mail reports that the Georgia Democratic Party disagrees with Vice President-elect Mike Pence. In a statement issued by the Georgia Democratic Party, the organization said the following.
“Donald Trump’s loathsome remarks on Congressman Lewis and the fifth District not only illustrate the President-elect’s classlessness – it further proves that Trump may be the most uneducated students of history to occupy the Oval Office. Congressman John Lewis has dedicated his life to ensuring that the United States lives up to its greatest expectations through nonviolence and grassroots activism. As a result of his and so many others’ sacrifices, our nation was transformed into a society where the scales of justice found more balance. Congressman Lewis’ legacy came at a steep price – he was jailed and beaten and bloodied. But he never gave up. He never gave in. And we as a nation are the beneficiaries of his commitment to getting into good trouble.”
On this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, let it be clear that John Lewis is an American patriot. Trump's attacks on him further confirm it. pic.twitter.com/WavPT36Atu
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) January 14, 2017
Donald Trump accused John Lewis of being “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results.” But, Congressman Lewis is an accomplished man and a decorated hero, that honor his multiple actions and results he initiated and participated in, in the fabric of American history.
CBS reports that Mike Pence honors those sacrifices and results, and, “the courage that he showed was the Voting Rights Act.” Clearly Mike Pence acknowledges that a man as respected as John Lewis delegitimizing a future president is potentially damaging to the presidency before it even begins. On “Face the Nation,” Mike Pence also said,
“So for someone of his stature not just in the civil rights movement, but in voting rights to make a comment that he did not consider Donald Trump to be a legitimate president, I think, is deeply disappointing.”
But, Mike Pence also claimed that Trump was not directing his comments specifically at John Lewis, when in fact he was. Trump also said that Georgia’s Fifth District was failing, and that it was crime infested. This just is not the case, and one person responded to Trump’s crime remarks, by turning the mirror back on Trump.
@realDonaldTrump speaking of crime, why did agree to a $25 million settlement over fraud allegations regarding Trump University?
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) January 15, 2017
In his comments against Rep. John Lewis, Mike Pence also failed to mention that he once gushed about Congressman Lewis, on the GOP website, where Mike Pence “recalls a trip to Selma” and he referred to Rep. Lewis as “my friend.” At the time, Mike Pence was a congressman for Indiana’s Sixth District reports the Washington Post. On that GOP website, Mike Pence said the following about John Lewis.
“Every American should know the story of Montgomery and Selma. Thanks to courageous Americans like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Congressman John Lewis, Dorothy Cotton, and F.D. Reese, these cities have become an integral part of the American story in our nation’s unrelenting march toward a more perfect union.”
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 14, 2017
What Mike Pence also failed to acknowledge was that Rep. Lewis’ decorated history, and his current work as a congressman, means that Rep. Lewis has a right to defend himself as well, and also the people of Georgia’s 5th District. Among John Lewis’ many accomplishments include being the 2011 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Washington Post reports that a ship in the Navy will also be named for John Lewis, an honor experienced by only a few.
Not only did Mike Pence appear to attempt to delegitimize Congressman Lewis’ statements themselves, but in defending Donald Trump’s attack, he also defended inaccurate statements.
Watch the whole interview with Mike Pence right here, where he discusses everything from Russia hacking of the election to Congressman John Lewis. He also endorses Trump’s wish to strengthen relationships with Russia.
As it turns out, Georgia’s Fifth District, an area that largely encompasses Atlanta, Georgia, is not “falling apart” and is in fact thriving.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell referred to the Trump tweets against John Lewis as a “vicious attack” and said that the tweets, “only serves to validate the sentiment initially expressed by Congressman Lewis.” He also issued a statement, saying the following.
“From being the site of the world’s busiest airport, the Centennial Olympic Games, numerous Fortune 500 companies, and an unparalleled civil and human rights heritage, Atlanta is a strong and proud city. While our city does not require validation from anyone, it is my sincere hope that as president Mr. Trump will be actively supportive of Atlanta’s commitment to become an even stronger American city.”
Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens described the Trump Twitter attack against John Lewis as “political bullying” and said the following of Lewis.
“He has been a staunch and vigorous advocate for his district and country and no amount of political bullying can erase that record.”
Georgia’s 5th District is home to approximately 750,000 people, and also to Fortune 500 companies that employ them, such as Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, reports CNN. Five of the billionaires listed on Forbes Magazine‘s 2016 ranking of wealthy people also live in Georgia’s 5th District, reports CNN. Congressman Lewis has represented the district, and well, as he keeps getting elected, and has been since 1986.
The 5th District has its share of poverty, but there is not a district in America that does not. Georgia’s 5th is definitely not falling apart as Donald Trump suggests. A Trump Tower also exists in Georgia’s 5th.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Mayor of Atlanta took issue with Trump’s statements, not just that they were inaccurate, but that they occurred on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Mayor Kasim Reed said on Saturday,
“That PEOTUS Trump would attack Congressman Lewis on MLK Day weekend for all talk no action, when he bled to actually make America great, is why far less than half the country supports him [Trump] at the dawn of his presidency.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that many leaders in Georgia took offense to Trump’s tweets, including reportedly some Georgia Republicans. A former mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin was quick to say that Trump’s comments on crime in Georgia’s Fifth are “all wrong.” She said,
“Clearly the President-elect’s tweet doesn’t do justice to all the strengths of the district. Like much of America it has issues that need to be addressed, but when you look at in totality (Trump’s statement) factually is not true. Tweeting may have been beneficial in winning the presidential election. It is yet to be seen whether it will benefit the American people when the President-elect governs.”
Donald Trump has said he has no plans on ending the tweeting, any time soon.
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) January 16, 2017
As far as the crime rate in Georgia’s Fifth District is concerned, the data supports what the leaders in Georgia have been saying, that Trump’s claims that Mike Pence defended, are inaccurate. The overall crime rate in Atlanta is down, and a New York Times analysis lists the top 25 cities with the highest murder rates in America, Atlanta is not one of them.
Additionally, a National Institute of Justice study out of the Department of Justice found that Atlanta did see an increase in homicides in 2015, but that the increase was lower than most other metropolitan cities. Thus, Donald Trump’s Twitter attack against John Lewis is not just cringeworthy for those that respect America’s civil rights heroes, it also fails multiple fact checks. The statements that Mike Pence made about Trump not attacking Lewis specifically also are not factually accurate statements.
[Featured Image by Evan Vucci/AP Images]